Informal

Leveraging the Power of Reflection and Visual Representation in Middle-Schoolers' Learning During and After an Informal Science Experience (Collaborative Research: Uttal)

This project addresses a longstanding problem in informal science education: how to increase the likelihood of consequential STEM learning from short duration experiences such as field trips.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2115905
Funding Period: 
Fri, 10/01/2021 to Tue, 09/30/2025
Full Description: 

This project addresses a longstanding problem in informal science education: how to increase the likelihood of consequential science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning from short duration experiences such as field trips. Although informal learning experiences can greatly contribute to interest in and knowledge of science, there is a shared concern among educators and researchers that students may have difficulty recalling and using scientific information and practices emphasized during these experiences, even though doing so would further their science learning. Nonetheless, science learning is rarely, if ever, a "one-shot deal." Children acquire knowledge about science cumulatively across different contexts and activities. Therefore, it is important that informal science learning institutions identify effective practices that support the consolidation of learning and memory from exhibit experiences to foster portable, usable knowledge across contexts, such as from informal science learning institutions, to classrooms, and homes. To this end, this Research in Service to Practice project seeks to harness the power and potential of visual representations (e.g., graphs, drawings, charts, maps, etc.) for enhancing learning and encouraging effective reflection during and after science learning experiences. The project promises to increase learning for the 9,000+ 5th and 6th grade students from across the rurality and growing diversity of the state of Maine who annually participate in LabVenture, a 2.5-hour exploration of the Gulf of Maine ecosystem at Gulf of Maine Research Institute. The research will provide new and actionable informal science learning practices that promote engagement with visual representations and reflection, and science understandings that can be applied broadly by informal science institutions.

The project is grounded in the idea that visual representations, including drawings, can both enhance science learning and encourage reflection on doing science that can support extension of that learning beyond a singular informal science experience. The project uses design-based research to address the following research questions: (1) Does reflection during an informal science learning experience promote students’ retention and subsequent use of science information and practices that are part of the experience? (2) Does interpreting and constructing visual representations, such as drawings, improve students’ understanding and retention of information, and if so, how and when?  and (3) Does combining visual representations and narrative reflections confer benefits on students’ science learning and engagement in science practices both during the informal learning experience, and later in their classrooms and at home? These questions will be pursued in collaboration with practitioners (both informal educators and classroom teachers) and a diverse team of graduate and undergraduate student researchers. Approximately 600 student groups (roughly 3000 individual students) will be observed during the LabVenture experience, with further data collection involving a portion of these students at school and at home. The project will yield resources and video demonstrations of field-tested, empirically based practices that promote engagement with visual representations and reflection, and science understandings that can travel within students' learning ecosystem. In support of broadening participation, the undergraduate/graduate student researchers will gain wide understanding and experience connecting research to practice and communicating science to academic and nonacademic audiences.

Leveraging the Power of Reflection and Visual Representation in Middle-Schoolers' Learning During and After an Informal Science Experience (Collaborative Research: Dickes)

This project addresses a longstanding problem in informal science education: how to increase the likelihood of consequential STEM learning from short duration experiences such as field trips.

Award Number: 
2115603
Funding Period: 
Fri, 10/01/2021 to Tue, 09/30/2025
Full Description: 

This project addresses a longstanding problem in informal science education: how to increase the likelihood of consequential science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning from short duration experiences such as field trips. Although informal learning experiences can greatly contribute to interest in and knowledge of science, there is a shared concern among educators and researchers that students may have difficulty recalling and using scientific information and practices emphasized during these experiences, even though doing so would further their science learning. Nonetheless, science learning is rarely, if ever, a "one-shot deal." Children acquire knowledge about science cumulatively across different contexts and activities. Therefore, it is important that informal science learning institutions identify effective practices that support the consolidation of learning and memory from exhibit experiences to foster portable, usable knowledge across contexts, such as from informal science learning institutions, to classrooms, and homes. To this end, this Research in Service to Practice project seeks to harness the power and potential of visual representations (e.g., graphs, drawings, charts, maps, etc.) for enhancing learning and encouraging effective reflection during and after science learning experiences. The project promises to increase learning for the 9,000+ 5th and 6th grade students from across the rurality and growing diversity of the state of Maine who annually participate in LabVenture, a 2.5-hour exploration of the Gulf of Maine ecosystem at Gulf of Maine Research Institute. The research will provide new and actionable informal science learning practices that promote engagement with visual representations and reflection, and science understandings that can be applied broadly by informal science institutions.

The project is grounded in the idea that visual representations, including drawings, can both enhance science learning and encourage reflection on doing science that can support extension of that learning beyond a singular informal science experience. The project uses design-based research to address the following research questions: (1) Does reflection during an informal science learning experience promote students’ retention and subsequent use of science information and practices that are part of the experience? (2) Does interpreting and constructing visual representations, such as drawings, improve students’ understanding and retention of information, and if so, how and when?  and (3) Does combining visual representations and narrative reflections confer benefits on students’ science learning and engagement in science practices both during the informal learning experience, and later in their classrooms and at home? These questions will be pursued in collaboration with practitioners (both informal educators and classroom teachers) and a diverse team of graduate and undergraduate student researchers. Approximately 600 student groups (roughly 3000 individual students) will be observed during the LabVenture experience, with further data collection involving a portion of these students at school and at home. The project will yield resources and video demonstrations of field-tested, empirically based practices that promote engagement with visual representations and reflection, and science understandings that can travel within students' learning ecosystem. In support of broadening participation, the undergraduate/graduate student researchers will gain wide understanding and experience connecting research to practice and communicating science to academic and nonacademic audiences.

Leveraging the Power of Reflection and Visual Representation in Middle-Schoolers' Learning During and After an Informal Science Experience (Collaborative Research: Haden)

This project addresses a longstanding problem in informal science education: how to increase the likelihood of consequential STEM learning from short duration experiences such as field trips.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2115610
Funding Period: 
Fri, 10/01/2021 to Tue, 09/30/2025
Full Description: 

This project addresses a longstanding problem in informal science education: how to increase the likelihood of consequential science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning from short duration experiences such as field trips. Although informal learning experiences can greatly contribute to interest in and knowledge of science, there is a shared concern among educators and researchers that students may have difficulty recalling and using scientific information and practices emphasized during these experiences, even though doing so would further their science learning. Nonetheless, science learning is rarely, if ever, a "one-shot deal." Children acquire knowledge about science cumulatively across different contexts and activities. Therefore, it is important that informal science learning institutions identify effective practices that support the consolidation of learning and memory from exhibit experiences to foster portable, usable knowledge across contexts, such as from informal science learning institutions, to classrooms, and homes. To this end, this Research in Service to Practice project seeks to harness the power and potential of visual representations (e.g., graphs, drawings, charts, maps, etc.) for enhancing learning and encouraging effective reflection during and after science learning experiences. The project promises to increase learning for the 9,000+ 5th and 6th grade students from across the rurality and growing diversity of the state of Maine who annually participate in LabVenture, a 2.5-hour exploration of the Gulf of Maine ecosystem at Gulf of Maine Research Institute. The research will provide new and actionable informal science learning practices that promote engagement with visual representations and reflection, and science understandings that can be applied broadly by informal science institutions.

The project is grounded in the idea that visual representations, including drawings, can both enhance science learning and encourage reflection on doing science that can support extension of that learning beyond a singular informal science experience. The project uses design-based research to address the following research questions: (1) Does reflection during an informal science learning experience promote students’ retention and subsequent use of science information and practices that are part of the experience? (2) Does interpreting and constructing visual representations, such as drawings, improve students’ understanding and retention of information, and if so, how and when?  and (3) Does combining visual representations and narrative reflections confer benefits on students’ science learning and engagement in science practices both during the informal learning experience, and later in their classrooms and at home? These questions will be pursued in collaboration with practitioners (both informal educators and classroom teachers) and a diverse team of graduate and undergraduate student researchers. Approximately 600 student groups (roughly 3000 individual students) will be observed during the LabVenture experience, with further data collection involving a portion of these students at school and at home. The project will yield resources and video demonstrations of field-tested, empirically based practices that promote engagement with visual representations and reflection, and science understandings that can travel within students' learning ecosystem. In support of broadening participation, the undergraduate/graduate student researchers will gain wide understanding and experience connecting research to practice and communicating science to academic and nonacademic audiences.

Developing and Researching K-12 Teacher Leaders Enacting Anti-bias Mathematics Education (Collaborative Research: Yeh)

The goal of this project is to study the design and development of community-centered, job-embedded professional development for classroom teachers that supports bias reduction. The project team will partner with three school districts serving racially, ethnically, linguistically, and socio-economically diverse communities, for a two-year professional development program.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101666
Funding Period: 
Sun, 08/01/2021 to Thu, 07/31/2025
Full Description: 

There is increased recognition that engaging all students in learning mathematics requires an explicit focus on anti-bias mathematics teaching. Teachers, even with positive intentions, have biases, causing them to treat students differently and impacting how they distribute students’ opportunities to learn in K-12 mathematics classrooms. Research is needed to examine models of mathematics teacher professional development that explicitly addresses bias reduction. The goal of this project is to study the design and development of community-centered, job-embedded professional development for classroom teachers that supports bias reduction. The project team will partner with three school districts serving racially, ethnically, linguistically, and socio-economically diverse communities, for a two-year professional development program. The aim is to reduce bias through: analyzing and designing mathematics teaching with colleagues, students, and families to create classrooms and schools based on community-centered mathematics; engaging in anti-bias teaching routines; and building relationships with parents, caretakers, and community members. The project team will study teacher leader professional development, including the professional development model, framework, and tools, along with what teacher leaders across district contexts and grade-levels take up and use in their instructional practice.  This will potentially have wider implications for supporting more equitable mathematics teaching and leadership. Project activities, resources, and tools will be shared with the broader community of mathematics educators and researchers for use in other contexts.

The goal of this two-phase, design based research project is to iteratively design and research teacher leaders’ (TLs) participation in community-centered, job-embedded professional development and investigate their subsequent impact on classrooms, schools, and districts. The project builds on the existing Math Studio professional development model to create a Community Centered Math Studio, integrating the Anti-bias Mathematics Education Framework into the work. The project seeks to understand how the professional development model supports the development of teacher leaders' knowledge, dispositions, and practices for teaching and leading anti-bias mathematics education, and how teachers' subsequent classroom practice can cultivate students' mathematical engagement, discourse, and interests. The project will measure aspects of teacher knowledge and classroom practice by integrating existing classroom observation rubrics and STEM interest surveys to assess the impact on teacher classroom practice and student outcomes. The project will engage 12 TLs and approximately 60 additional teachers working with those TLs in two years of professional development using the Community Centered Math Studio Model to support anti-bias mathematics teaching. Data will be collected for all teachers related to their participation in the professional learning, with six teachers being followed for additional data collection and in-depth case studies. The project's outcomes will contribute to theories of how TLs build adaptive expertise for teaching and leading to reduce bias in classrooms, departments, schools, and districts. In addition, the project will contribute new and adapted research instruments on anti-bias teaching and leading. The research outcomes will add to the growing research base that describes the nature of equitable mathematics teaching in K-12 classrooms and increases access to meaningful mathematics for students, teachers, and communities.

The Impact of COVID on American Education in 2021: Continued Evidence from the Understanding America Study

This study will build upon the team's prior research from early in the pandemic. Researchers will continue to collect data from families and aims to understand parents’ perspectives on the educational impacts of COVID-19 by leveraging a nationally representative, longitudinal study, the Understanding America Study (UAS). The study will track educational experiences during the Spring and Summer of 2021 and into the 2021-22 school year.

Award Number: 
2120194
Funding Period: 
Mon, 03/01/2021 to Mon, 02/28/2022
Full Description: 

The COVID-19 epidemic has been a tremendous disruption to the education of U.S. students and their families, and evidence suggests that this disruption has been unequally felt across households by income and race/ethnicity. While other ongoing data collection efforts focus on understanding this disruption from the perspective of students or educators, less is known about the impact of COVID-19 on children’s prek-12 educational experiences as reported by their parents, especially in STEM subjects. This study will build upon the team's prior research from early in the pandemic. Researchers will continue to collect data from families and aims to understand parents’ perspectives on the educational impacts of COVID-19 by leveraging a nationally representative, longitudinal study, the Understanding America Study (UAS). The study will track educational experiences during the spring and summer of 2021 and into the 2021-22 school year. The team will analyze outcomes overall and for key demographic groups of interest as students and teachers return to in-person instruction during 2021. This RAPID project allows critically important data to continue to be collected and contribute to continued understanding of the impacts of and responses to the pandemic by American families.

Since March of 2020, the UAS has been tracking the educational impacts of COVID-19 for a nationally representative sample of approximately 1,400 households with preK-12 children. Early results focused on quantifying the digital divide and documenting the receipt of important educational services--like free meals and special education servicesafter COVID-19 began. This project will support the continued targeted administration of UAS questions to parents about students’ learning experiences and engagement, overall and in STEM subjects, data analysis, and dissemination of results to key stakeholder groups. Findings will be reported overall and across key demographic groups including ethnicity, disability, urbanicity, and socioeconomic status. This project will also produce targeted research briefs addressing pressing policy questions aimed at supporting intervention strategies in states, districts, and schools moving forward. Widespread dissemination will take place through existing networks and in collaboration with other research projects focused on understanding the COVID-19 crisis. All cross-sectional and longitudinal UAS data files will be publicly available shortly after conclusion of administration so that other researchers can explore the correlates of, and outcomes associated with, COVID-19.

Building Networks and Enhancing Diversity in the K-12 STEM Teaching Workforce

The goal of this planning grant is to explicitly focus on broadening participation in the K-12 STEM teaching workforce, with the theory of action that diversifying the K-12 STEM teaching workforce would in the long term help more students see STEM as accessible to them and then be more likely to choose a STEM degree or career.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2040784
Funding Period: 
Tue, 12/01/2020 to Tue, 11/30/2021
Full Description: 

The goal of this planning grant is to explicitly focus on broadening participation in the K-12 STEM teaching workforce, with the theory of action that diversifying the K-12 STEM teaching workforce would in the long term help more students see STEM as accessible to them and then be more likely to choose a STEM degree or career. Currently there is a large demographic discrepancy between students and teachers in K-12 schools. Studies have highlighted that the diverse teaching workforce benefits not only students of color but all students. Since 2017, the Smithsonian Science Education Center has conducted an annual STEM Diversity Summit, with the goal of building a coalition (built on collective impact) for attracting and retaining a diverse K-12 STEM teaching workforce, in which teams of teachers and administrators representing 83 school districts, schools, and states across the country shared their problems and developed a logic model to attract and retain a diverse K-12 STEM teaching workforce in their region with annual support from a matched mentor. This planning grant supports revisiting those former teams to better understand the dynamics of systems change through close examination of the successes and challenges outlined in their logic models with the perspective of the Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT). Under the collaborative infrastructure elements of shared vision and partnerships, this planning grant will inform and lay the foundation for a future alliance focused on diversifying the K-12 STEM teaching workforce.

In this planning grant, the Smithsonian in collaboration with Howard University, as well as in partnership with other experts in STEM teacher education, professional development, and diversityincluding from Harvard University, Rutgers University, 100kin10, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, MA Department of Higher Education, STEM Equity Alliance, National Science Teaching Association, and private industrywill work on four primary activities. First, a survey will be developed and conducted with faculty members of Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs), including approximately 100 Minority Serving Institutions, which serve diverse populations in K-12 teacher preparation programs and STEM education across the country. The goal of the survey is to understand what roles IHEs play in organizational change management and strategic planning to diversify the K-12 STEM teaching workforce. Second, a virtual workshop will be convened to bring former STEM Diversity Summit attendees and their extended networks to reflect on their progress and activities in past years and discuss strategic long-term plans. Third, a survey with the virtual workshop participants will be conducted to better understand their practices, attitudes, and perceptions about their roles to create culturally diverse ecosystems in K-12 STEM education. Finally, all the collected information from the above activities will be used to investigate strategies and evidence-based practices of enhancing diversity in the K-12 STEM teaching workforce, and an iterative source book will be developed based on those findings as an initial resource to ground future work. Over a 12 month period, this planning grant will build a network between the former teams and with the extended partners, including the NSF INCLUDES National Network, and help them to grow as regional hubs within a Future NSF INCLUDES Alliance focused on diversifying the K-12 STEM teacher workforce, with the Smithsonian as the backbone organization.

Exploring COVID and the Effects on U.S. Education: Evidence from a National Survey of American Households

This study aims to understand parents' perspectives on the educational impacts of COVID-19 by leveraging a nationally representative, longitudinal study, the Understanding America Study (UAS). The study will track educational experiences during the summer of 2020 and into the 2020-21 school year and analyze outcomes overall and for key demographic groups of interest.

Award Number: 
2037179
Funding Period: 
Wed, 07/15/2020 to Wed, 06/30/2021
Full Description: 

The COVID-19 epidemic has been a tremendous disruption to the education of U.S. students and their families, and early evidence suggests that this disruption has been unequally felt across households by income and race/ethnicity. While other ongoing data collection efforts focus on understanding this disruption from the perspective of students or educators, less is known about the impact of COVID-19 on children's prek-12 educational experiences as reported by their parents, especially in STEM subjects. This study aims to understand parents' perspectives on the educational impacts of COVID-19 by leveraging a nationally representative, longitudinal study, the Understanding America Study (UAS). The study will track educational experiences during the summer of 2020 and into the 2020-21 school year and analyze outcomes overall and for key demographic groups of interest.

Since March of 2020, the UAS has been tracking the educational impacts of COVID-19 for a nationally representative sample of approximately 1,500 households with preK-12 children. Early results focused on quantifying the digital divide and documenting the receipt of important educational serviceslike free meals and special education servicesafter COVID-19 began. This project will support targeted administration of UAS questions to parents about students' learning experiences and engagement, overall and in STEM subjects, data analysis, and dissemination of results to key stakeholder groups. Findings will be reported overall and across key demographic groups including ethnicity, disability, urbanicity, and socioeconomic status. The grant will also support targeted research briefs addressing pressing policy questions aimed at supporting intervention strategies in states, districts, and schools moving forward. Widespread dissemination will take place through existing networks and in collaboration with other research projects focused on understanding the COVID-19 crisis. All cross-sectional and longitudinal UAS data files will be publicly available shortly after conclusion of administration so that other researchers can explore the correlates of, and outcomes associated with, COVID-19.

Incorporating Professional Science Writing into High School STEM Research Projects

The goal of this project is to expand high school student participation in the peer-review process and in publishing in JEI, a science journal dedicated to mentoring pre-college students through peer-reviewed publication. By publishing pre-college research in an open access website, the project will build understanding of how engaging in these activities can change high school students' perceptions and practices of scientific inquiry.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2010333
Funding Period: 
Wed, 07/15/2020 to Fri, 06/30/2023
Project Evaluator: 
Maya Patel
Full Description: 

This exploratory project addresses important challenge of incorporating disciplinary literacy practices in scientific inquiry projects of high school students. The project will incorporate the peer-review process and publication in the Journal of Emerging Investigators (JEI). The Next Generation Science Standards emphasize constructs from disciplinary literacy such as engaging in argument from evidence, and evaluating and communicating information. However, there are few resources available to students and teachers that integrate these constructs in authentic forms that reflect the practices of professional scientists. High school student learners engage in scientific inquiry, but rarely participate in authentic forms of communication, forms that are reflective of how scientists communicate and participate in the primary literature of their fields. The project has three aims: 1) Generate knowledge of the impact of peer-review and publication on perceptions and skills of scientific inquiry and STEM identity, 2) Generate knowledge of how participation in peer-review and publication are impacted by contextual factors (differences in mentors and research contexts), and 3) Develop JEI field-guides across a range of contexts in which students conduct their research.

The goal of the project is to expand high school student participation in the peer-review process and in publishing in JEI, a science journal dedicated to mentoring pre-college students through peer-reviewed publication. By publishing pre-college research in an open access website, the project will build understanding of how engaging in these activities can change high school students' perceptions and practices of scientific inquiry. The project will investigate how participation in peer-reviewed publications will have an impact on student learning by administering a set of pre- and post-surveys to students who submit a paper to JEI. The project will expand student participation in JEI via outreach to teachers in under-resourced and remote areas by delivering virtual and in-person workshops which will serve to demystify peer review and publication, and explore ways to integrate these processes into existing inquiry projects. Other efforts will focus on understanding how student contextual experiences can impact their learning of scientific inquiry. These student experiences include the location of the project (school, home, university lab), the type of mentor they have, and how they became motivated to pursue publication of their research. The project will recruit students from under-resourced schools in New York through a collaboration with MathForAmerica and from rural areas through outreach with STEM coordinators in the Midwest. The resources created will be disseminated directly on the JEI website.

Supporting Students' Language, Knowledge, and Culture through Science

This project will test and refine a teaching model that brings together current research about the role of language in science learning, the role of cultural connections in students' science engagement, and how students' science knowledge builds over time. The outcome of this project will be to provide an integrated framework that can guide current and future science teachers in preparing all students with the conceptual and linguistic practices they will need to succeed in school and in the workplace.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2010633
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/01/2020 to Sat, 08/31/2024
Full Description: 

The Language, Culture, and Knowledge-building through Science project seeks to explore and positively influence the work of science teachers at the intersection of three significant and ongoing challenges affecting U.S. STEM education. First, U.S. student demographics are rapidly changing, with an increasing number of students learning STEM subjects in their second language. This change means that all teachers need new skills for meeting students where they currently are, linguistically, culturally, and in terms of prior science knowledge. Second, the needs and opportunities of the national STEM workforce are changing rapidly within a shifting employment landscape. This shift means that teachers need to better understand future job opportunities and the knowledge and skills that will be necessary in those careers. Third, academic expectations in schools have changed, driven by changes in education standards. These new expectations mean that teachers need new skills to support all students to master a range of practices that are both conceptual and linguistic. To address these challenges, teachers require new models that bring together current research about the role of language in science learning, the role of cultural connections in students' science engagement, and how students' science knowledge builds over time. This project begins with such an initial model, developed collaboratively with science teachers in a prior project. The model will be rigorously tested and refined in a new geographic and demographic context. The outcome will be to provide an integrated framework that can guide current and future science teachers in preparing all students with the conceptual and linguistic practices they will need to succeed in school and in the workplace.

This project model starts with three theoretical constructs that have been integrated into an innovative framework of nine practices. These practices guide teachers in how to simultaneously support students' language development, cultural sustenance, and knowledge building through science with a focus on supporting and challenging multilingual learners. The project uses a functional view of language development, which highlights the need to support students in understanding both how and why to make shifts in language use. For example, students' attention will be drawn to differences in language use when they shift from language that is suited to peer negotiation in a lab group to written explanations suitable for a lab report. Moving beyond a funds of knowledge approach to culture, the team view of integrating students' cultural knowledge includes strengthening the role of home knowledge in school, but also guiding students to apply school knowledge to their out-of-school interests and passions. Finally, the project team's view of cumulative knowledge building, informed by work in the sociology of knowledge, highlights the need for teachers and students to understand the norms for meaning making within a given discipline. In the case of science, the three-dimensional learning model in the Next Generation Science Standards makes these disciplinary norms visible and serves as a launching point for the project's work. Teachers will be supported to structure learning opportunities that highlight what is unique about meaning making through science. Using a range of data collection and analysis methods, the project team will study changes in teachers' practices and beliefs related to language, culture and knowledge building, as teachers work with all students, and particularly with multilingual learners. The project work will take place in both classrooms and out of class science learning settings. By working closely over several years with a group of fifty science teachers spread across the state of Oregon, the project team will develop a typology of teachers (design personas) to increase the field's understanding of how to support different teachers, given their own backgrounds, in preparing all students for the broad range of academic and occupational pathways they will encounter.

Pandemic Learning Loss in U.S. High Schools: A National Examination of Student Experiences

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools across much of the U.S. have been closed since mid-March of 2020 and many students have been attempting to continue their education away from schools. Student experiences across the country are likely to be highly variable depending on a variety of factors at the individual, home, school, district, and state levels. This project will use two, nationally representative, existing databases of high school students to study their experiences in STEM education during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2030436
Funding Period: 
Fri, 05/15/2020 to Sat, 04/30/2022
Full Description: 

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools across much of the U.S. have been closed since mid-March of 2020 and many students have been attempting to continue their education away from schools. Student experiences across the country are likely to be highly variable depending on a variety of factors at the individual, home, school, district, and state levels. This project will use two, nationally representative, existing databases of high school students to study their experiences in STEM education during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study intends to ascertain whether students are taking STEM courses in high school, the nature of the changes made to the courses, and their plans for the fall. The researchers will identify the electronic learning platforms in use, and other modifications made to STEM experiences in formal and informal settings. The study is particularly interested in finding patterns of inequities for students in various demographic groups underserved in STEM and who may be most likely to be affected by a hiatus in formal education.

This study will collect data using the AmeriSpeak Teen Panel of approximately 2,000 students aged 13 to 17 and the Infinite Campus Student Information System with a sample of approximately 2.5 million high school students. The data sets allow for relevant comparisons of student experiences prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic and offer unique perspectives with nationally representative samples of U.S. high school students. New data collection will focus on formal and informal STEM learning opportunities, engagement, STEM course taking, the nature and frequency of instruction, interactions with teachers, interest in STEM, and career aspirations. Weighted data will be analyzed using descriptive statistics and within and between district analysis will be conducted to assess group differences. Estimates of between group pandemic learning loss will be provided with attention to demographic factors.

This RAPID award is made by the DRK-12 program in the Division of Research on Learning. The Discovery Research PreK-12 program (DRK-12) seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics by preK-12 students and teachers, through the research and development of new innovations and approaches. Projects in the DRK-12 program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for the projects.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

 

 

 

 

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